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My Opinion On Oakwood Commons So Far

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I've been following (and writing about) Oakwood Commons since it was announced back in 2011. Here's a compendium of some of the early claims by the developer and what has happened since.

# 1: "This densely populated area is underserved by national retailers, and there is more demand than can be accommodated by University Square, Severance and Cedar Center," Mitchell Schneider told me in a 2011 interview.

* A 2007 study revealed that Northeast Ohio had a retail surplus of over 22 million square feet, and the amount of retail space has grown significantly since then. Most retail insiders agree: There's too much retail.

# 2: "Investment begets investment," Schneider told me in the same interview, suggesting that the development of Oakwood Commons would lead to improvements in older retail areas.

*: When Walmart moved from Severance to Oakwood Commons in 2013, it devastated the Cleveland Heights shopping mall. Older retail areas in the vicinity suffer high vacancy rates.

# 3: "Some of the retailers at Oakwood Commons will be new to Northeast Ohio," Schneider told me when I interviewed him in 2011.

*: Two years into the project, none of the retailers at Oakwood Commons are new to Northeast Ohio, and the largest retailer, Walmart, was lured from Severance one mile away.

# 4: "In the Heights area, this [Cuyahoga County Planning Commission] study shows there is a deficit of 1.5 million square feet of retail space that would serve the customer base of those communities in the same convenient way those customers would be served in the exurbs," Schneider told WCPN in 2011.

*: Cuyahoga County's retail study was done in 2000, before University Square opened in 2003. The more recent study by Kastelic shows retail saturation in Cuyahoga County.

# 5: "We've proposed that nearly 70 acres be preserved as permanent green space and then another 20-22 acres [in Cleveland Heights] be used as residential development, perhaps senior housing, which we think there's a market for near University Circle," Schneider told WCPN.

*: First Interstate created a 21-acre park in South Euclid. The Cleveland Heights portion of Oakwood was sold to the Hebrew Academy. The senior housing project has been discarded.

# 6: "The upscale retirement community we envision would involve the investment of approximately $80 million and, combined with the additional uses proposed for the Cleveland Heights property, will create significant jobs so that the income tax revenues to the city of Cleveland Heights would more than make up for the Walmart jobs transferred to South Euclid," Schneider told Sun News after Walmart announced it would move from Severance in 2013.

*: Cleveland Heights never got those jobs back and probably never will. Schneider canceled the Cleveland Heights project and sold the land to the Hebrew Academy.

# 7: "I think it's the exact right location to build a shopping mall that doesn't kill existing retail by going right on top of it, but serves an underserved area just like Steelyard Commons," Schneider told WCPN in 2011.

*: Oakwood lured Walmart from Severance, which catapulted it into a distressed state.

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